Children of the Damned

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Children of the Damned
Children of the Damned.jpg
Theatrical Poster
Directed by Anton M. Leader
Produced by Ben Arbeid
Written by John Briley
Starring Ian Hendry
Alan Badel
Barbara Ferris
Alfred Burke
Music by Ron Goodwin
Cinematography David Boulton
Edited by Ernest Walter
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • 29 January 1964 (1964-01-29) (U.S.)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $1,000,000 (US/ Canada)[1]

Children of the Damned is a 1964 science fiction film, a thematic sequel to the 1960 version of Village of the Damned.[2] It is about a group of children, with similar psi-powers to those in the preceding film,[3] but enabling an opposite interpretation of the children as a more good and more pure form of human instead of evil and alien.[4]


Six children are identified by a team of UNESCO researchers investigating child development. The children have extraordinary powers of intellect and are all able to complete a difficult brick puzzle in exactly the same amount of time.

British psychologist Tom Lewellin (Ian Hendry) and geneticist David Neville (Alan Badel) are interested in Paul, a London boy whose mother Diana (Sheila Allen) clearly hates the child and insists she was never touched by a man. This is initially dismissed as hysteria and it is implied she has 'loose' morals. But after a while the two men realize that all six children were born without a father and are also capable of telepathy.

The children, from various countries – China, India, Nigeria, the Soviet Union, the United States and the UK – are brought to London for a collective study into their advanced intelligence. However the children escape from their embassies and gather at an abandoned church in Southwark, London. They intermittently take mental control of Paul's aunt (Ferris) to help them survive in the derelict church. Meanwhile, the military debates whether or not to destroy them. The children have demonstrated the capacity for telekinesis and construct a complex machine which uses sonic waves as a defensive weapon, which kills several government officials and soldiers. But the military realizes that they only fight back when attacked. After psychologist Tom Lewellin makes a passionate plea asking the group return to their respective embassies, the children obey and murder embassy and military officials before returning to the church.

Lewellin urges the government to give the children leeway. However his team of scientists observe the difference between an ordinary human blood cell and the cells of one of the children, thereby implying the children to be non-human, and destined to become a threat to the human race.

When authorities try to take control of the children, they are forced to protect themselves. As the situation escalates into a final showdown between the military and the children, one of the scientists postulates that the judgment of the children being alien was incorrect, and that the children's cells are in fact human, advanced by a million years. Meanwhile, the children also imply that they have arrived at the decision that their presence is incompatible, and therefore intend to lower their defences and sacrifice themselves. The military commander recognizes that a mistake has been made, and aborts the attack command. However, the command is triggered accidentally, by a screwdriver – one of the simplest of man's machines. The church is destroyed and the children of the damned are killed.

Difference in theme from Village of the Damned[edit]

"This story takes an opposite primary thematic direction from the original Village of the Damned, and from that movie's 1995 remake. In those other versions, almost all the children are portrayed as irredeemably ruthless non-human aliens who must be defeated. In Children of the Damned, the children are clearly implied instead to be Christ-like advanced humans, complete with "virgin births" and the raising of the dead, and they are destroyed as a result of the average adults' inability to rise above their backward paranoia. In the other stories, the alien children are "damned," i.e. "cursed beings," while in this version, it is the human race that is metaphorically "damned" due to its inability to embrace its own (future) children. In addition, the children in other versions all result from an evident alien intervention upon a single village, while in this version they are drawn from natural events in diverse regions and races, thereby epitomizing all the children of the human race. One of the Village version children is made redeemable but is still an emotionally diminished alien. Thus not enabling the philosophical message of Children of the Damned in which the children are instead revealed to be the most pure form of humanity."[citation needed] [5]


Critical reception[edit]

The New York Times wrote: "a dull, pretentious successor to that marvelous little chiller of several seasons ago, Village of the Damned." What a comedown" .[6] In contrast, Time Out called the sequel "a fairly intriguing and atmospheric exercise in science fiction." [7]


  1. ^ "Big Rental Pictures of 1964". Variety: 39. 6 January 1965.  Please note this figure is rentals accruing to distributors not total gross.
  2. ^ "Children of the Damned". BFI. 
  3. ^ Children of the Damned at the Internet Movie Database.
  4. ^ "Children-of-the-Damned - Trailer - Cast - Showtimes -". 
  5. ^ "DVD Savant Review: Village of the Damned & Children of the Damned". 
  6. ^ "Movie Review – Children of the Damned - Children of the Damned' -". 
  7. ^ "Children of the Damned". Time Out London. 

External links[edit]